A total of 44 Covid-19 positive cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed via whole genome sequencing conducted by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) with 7 positive cases of local infections in Sarawak.
The imported cases involved those from Saudi Arabia (29), United Arab Emirates (5), Kazakhstan (5), United Kingdom (3), America (1) and Tanzania (1).
Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar explained that whole genome sequencing tests on samples showing possibilities of being the Omicron variant is still ongoing and the Ministry of Health will update on the confirmation.
“Meanwhile, I have just received the results of the whole genome sequencing and Institute for Medical Research has confirmed 72 more Covid-19 positive cases of Omicron variant in which 59 of them were from Saudi Arabia.
“Further details on the latest results will be informed by the Ministry of Health in the near future,” he said in a recent statement.
Following the latest results, the cumulative total of positive cases detected to be of Omicron variant in Malaysia is 245 cases with 233 being imported cases and 12 being local transmissions.
From the overall Omicron cases reported, a total of 157 cases or 64.08% involved returning umrah pilgrims.
The Ministry of Health reminds individuals instructed to undergo mandatory quarantine at home or residence to continue to abide by the instruction, remain in a separate room and not meet with other household members or individuals.
Khairy also mentioned that the temporary suspension of umrah travel is continued for a month effective January 8 while quarantine is mandatory at quarantine stations for umrah pilgrims.
At the same time, risk assessment in and out of the country, especially in Saudi Arabia will be carried out from time to time.
“The Ministry of Health together with related ministries and agencies will update the standard operating procedure (SOP) for pilgrims.
He also mentioned that pilgrims will be required to have a booster dose and the authorities will carry out management of cases and close contacts in Saudi Arabia.
“The health status of Malaysian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will be monitored and travel agencies will be empowered to ensure compliance with SOP by pilgrims and officers besides reporting positive cases and close contacts to the Ministry of Health in Malaysia,” he added.